Ben's Car Blog
March 27, 2022 /

Replacing the WRX

Replacing the WRX

I recently shared that I traded in my 2018 WRX. While I didn't originally intend to switch vehicles so quickly, I had been exploring options for replacements for a while.

Unfortunately, given the current used car market, I knew that I’d probably end up ordering a new vehicle instead of fighting to find a reasonably-priced used one.

In fact, nearly every dealership website that I looked at had used vehicles going for close to if not above the MSRP on their brand new equivalents. To say it's a crazy market right now would be an understatement!

With this in mind, I assembled a short list of options.

Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 was a top runner on my list. Originally I hadn't considered any sort of electric vehicle let alone a Tesla, but after seeing more and more Model 3s in-person, they caught my attention. After doing some more research, I came to appreciate the many benefits that an EV like the Tesla offered.

The Tesla Model 3

Besides the instant torque, insane acceleration, and low maintenance/cost of ownership, the idea of never having to visit a gas pump again sounded very appealing!

Unfortunately, there were also a number of very good reasons not to go with a Tesla.

First and foremost were the concerns about build quality. I tried convince myself that it was overhyped, and that any Model 3 I’d buy wouldn’t be one of the “outliers”. But the more I read about it, the more I realized that things like grossly mis-aligned panels, shoddy paint, and malfunctioning hardware shouldn’t be an issue with a vehicle as expensive as the Tesla. Period.

Then there was the issue of certain core features of the car being unreliable, and in some situations outright dangerous. One example being the cruise control system, per a highly-publicized "phantom braking" issue.

I just couldn’t stomach the thought of having a car who’s cruise control system might unpredictably stomp on the brakes with my wife behind the wheel at highway speeds!

Finally, the cost of Teslas has been continually creeping up. And no matter how I looked at it, the thought of dropping close to $60,000 on a vehicle that lacked many of the amenities, build quality, and reliability of much cheaper alternatives was just too hard to legitimize.

That being said, I’m very excited to see how the EV market develops in the next 3-5 years, and fully expect that my next car will be electric. However, currently Tesla is absolutely dominating the industry, and they need some serious competition to help address these concerns and advance the technology/bring down costs.

Volvo S60 Recharge

After deciding to pass on a Tesla, my next thought was something from Volvo. I love what they’ve been doing with their recent wagon designs, but those were ruled out immediately due to being out of my budget.

The S60, though, caught my attention as a handsome, practical, sporty sedan. Specifically, the plug-in hybrid Recharge trim offered most of the benefits of a “light” EV - having enough juice to get me through my work commute on pure electric power.

Volvo S60

However, the turbocharged, supercharged, and hybrid powertrain gave me night sweats thinking about maintenance and long-term reliability. Not to mention Volvo themselves have made a commitment to go full-EV by 2030, and have already started deprioritizing their ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.

For now, another pass. But I’ll definitely have my eye on what Volvo does with electrifying their wagons in the next few years!

Kia K5/Stinger

Kia is another company that has been getting a lot of attention for their new vehicles. Both the K5 sedan and Stinger sportback are sharp looking cars, and offer a ton of value for the price!

Kia K5

Unfortunately, the K5 lineup is confusingly arranged, and is not offered with the more powerful engine and AWD; the latter being a must-have, after growing accustomed to it after almost five years with the WRX.

And while the superb Stinger is offered with AWD and a twin turbo V6, the higher trims (that included a lot of the features I was looking for) stretched my budget farther than I was comfortable.

Kia Stinger

Subaru Outback

I know what you’re thinking - “Wait, don’t you guys already have an Outback?”. The answer is, yes, but bear with me…

As I considered selling the WRX, I visited a few local Subaru dealerships to get some trade-in quotes. One dealership had a lowered Onyx XT (their sporty, blacked out trim) Outback on the lot that caught my eye.

A lowered Outback Onyx XT

I've always had a soft spot for sporty wagons, and I had completely overlooked the Outback XT (same 2.4L turbo as the new WRX)! My brain started churning the idea of a lowered, blacked-out Outback, reminiscent of the older style I loved.

Side note: I am so obsessed with the mid-2000s XTs that, before I bought the WRX, I almost chased a guy down to make him an offer on his mint, dark gray ’08 XT wagon. Much to the relief of my wife, I never followed through on it...

I've always loved older Outback XTs

Still, the idea of buying a 2nd Outback was a bit weird. I decided to see what the new models had to offer and headed down to Schlossmann Subaru in South Milwaukee one afternoon.

I met with a wonderfully professional and personable salesman named Kevin who informed me that their system didn’t show any Onyx XTs currently on their lot. Instead, he set me up with the a lightly-used 2021 Legacy Touring XT so I could at least get a feel for the engine (as the Legacy and Outback share the same platform/powertrain).

Test driving the Legacy

Legacy Who?

To be honest, I had almost completely forgotten about the Subaru Legacy - particularly since it had developed an image of being a pretty bland commuter car in recent generations. I knew it shared the new Subaru Global Platform with the Outback, but that was about it!

But when Kevin pulled the car up and showed me around, it was a classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover"!

As I mentioned in my last WRX post, I had grown accustomed to Subaru interiors being dark and utilitarian. The Legacy interior couldn't have been more different - it genuinely felt like some $50k Mercedes I’d sat in!

Legacy Touring XT interior

The combination of the Java Brown real nappa leather, soft touch absolutely everywhere, and the new, massive central infotainment screen made a strong first impression. He handed me the keys and left me to take it for a spin.

Out on the road, the Legacy was incredibly comfortable. The CVT was silky smooth at low speeds, and when I got on the highway the 2.4L turbo engine had a surprising kick!

I knew that the naturally-aspirated 2.5L in our Outback already had plenty of power for daily driving, so I was happily surprised at how much more acceleration was available with the turbo! At one point, I’m pretty sure I literally said “DAMN” out loud!

Granted, it’s no E85-tuned track monster like a WRX or STI could be, but it definitely of recalibrated my perception of what the Legacy was capable of!

That night I did a little research and was surprised by how little presence the 7th gen Legacy XT had online. There was a bit of hooplah around the 2020 redesign and a few reviews here and there praising the refinement and updated interior.

In spite of this, the more I thought about the value the Touring XT trim provided for the price, I realized it fit my needs almost perfectly.

Perfect Timing

Over the next few days, I texted back and forth with Kevin and ended up putting down a deposit on a white 2022 Legacy Touring XT. This was a bit of a surreal experience, but after a sleeping on it for a few nights I realized how genuinely excited I was!

As luck would have it, the dealership had a car on order with almost exactly the same specs as I was looking for, albeit with a few extra accessories. Rather than wait weeks or months for a custom order of my own, I decided to jump on it.

With the Legacy set to be delivered any day, those last few days with the WRX were a flurry to get it back to as close to stock as I could! Certain things like the headlights stayed on the car since it wasn’t worth my time (or money) to mess with.

Reverting the WRX to stock

The new owner would be getting one hell of a car - with the custom headlights, taillights, lip kit, upgraded brakes, and carbon interior trim still installed. Not to mention the front bumper, hood, and side skirts still looking brand new after almost five years thanks to the XPEL Ultimate PPF.

Taking Delivery of the Legacy

About a week after putting my deposit down, the Legacy arrived at the dealership! I was excited but nervous, as it had been a few years since I ordered the WRX and I'd forgotten how nerve-wracking the purchase process could be.

Because of the state of the car market as a whole, I didn’t bother with any real negotiating this time around. They had offered me a fair value for my WRX, and were willing to sell me the Legacy at MSRP - a better deal than most of the sales I'd been reading about online.

Before heading in to sign the paperwork, I called up Subaru of America and told them about my intention to buy a new car, and asked about any customer loyalty perks they might offer. They were nice enough to send me a $500 certificate to present at the time of sale! This was an unexpected, but nice bonus!

The delivery process itself was super straightforward - Kevin and the Schlossmann team made it pretty much painless, and my wife and I were in and out within two hours! It was absolutely bittersweet to hand over the keys to the WRX, but I trusted that it was in good hands.

Trading in the WRX

A few weeks after the sale, I noticed my car had disappeared from their website, so I texted Kevin asking if it had sold. He replied “Yes” and explained:

“It went to a young(ish) guy (mid to late 20s) who is finally in a position where he could afford that kind of vehicle, and he’s spent quite a long time searching for the perfect one. He was super excited to finally find the right fit!”

I couldn’t think of a more perfect end to my story with the WRX. As sad as I was to let go of the car, I’m so excited to hear it went to someone who appreciates it and hopefully fulfilled one of their dreams, too. I hope to see it driving around town soon!

The WRX for sale on the lot

Initial Thoughts

It’s been about two weeks since I brought the Legacy home - so has it lived up to my expectations? Do I have any regrets?

My new 2022 Legacy Touring XT

Well, I still wish there had been a trim option that combined the OEM blacked-out look of the Legacy Sport with the luxury interior and features of the Touring XT. But, I’ve already made some progress on deleting the chrome myself - stay tuned for more details on that soon!

From a driving perspective, I love the way the Legacy rides. It’s much smoother than the WRX, but obviously nowhere near as sharp and sporty (these characteristics are kind of naturally at odds). As a result, I’ve been exploring options to liven up the handling a little bit, but am appreciating it as-is for now.

My new 2022 Legacy Touring XT

Most importantly, I’m absolutely loving the more refined interior and tech - particularly Apple CarPlay and the new infotainment! Having to use the screen for a lot of functions (including climate control and the heated/cooled seats) is a bit frustrating sometimes, but fortunately there’s still physical buttons to quickly change the temperature.

So overall, no - I don’t regret my decision to go with the Legacy at all! I obviously miss the WRX, but with some big changes (or maybe just one rather small one...) coming for my wife and I, it's really the perfect vehicle for this new phase of life.

I can't wait to share my thoughts about the Legacy ownership experience, and to build the car into the vision in my head (I'm already dreaming big in Photoshop!).

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts - are you in the market for a new car too? Are there any EVs you're excited for? What would you have replaced the WRX with?


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